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Grateful Dead Live at Viola Lee Blues Reahearsals on 1966-01-01

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Grateful Dead Live at Viola Lee Blues Reahearsals on 1966-01-01

Topics Live concert

~10 rehearsals of Viola Lee Blues, with banter

Collection GratefulDead
Band/Artist Grateful Dead
Venue Viola Lee Blues Reahearsals
Location ?, CA

Source Soundboard
Lineage Nak CR7E (unknown gen cassette) > Sound Forge
Taped by
Transferred by Uli Teute and Hanno Bunjes


January 1966 (?) - Viola Lee rehearsals; 47 minutes from unknown generation cassette played back on Nak CR7E; via Uli Teute and Hanno Bunjes


Reviewer: rillathe - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - November 15, 2016
Subject: Very interesting to hear rehearsals
4 5/5
Reviewer: mrjohnhell - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - January 28, 2016
Subject: Great read on some mystery reels. This rehearsal mentioned at length
Reviewer: Dead In Istanbul - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - May 30, 2014
Regarding Owsley being the taper, he was most likely there taping or doing something. If this is before the Pico acid test in LA, they were staying in his rented house where he was also manufacturing acid. He was in the Dead camp for most of '66-'68 doing sound. There's a nice photo of him and Garcia at the San Diego airport in 1968 arriving for (or departing from) two shows at the old Hippodrome.

As has been said, this recording is a great bit of history for the band. I always find it fun to hear their banter. As the years went on, there was little said aside from, "We'll be back after just a short break."
Reviewer: njpg - favoritefavorite - December 20, 2013
Subject: -
Mostly pretty good, but the 15 minute jam is hella rough.
Reviewer: bernlin2000 - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - December 15, 2012
Subject: January
I've been trying to find the earlier GD stuff and it looks like this just might the first recordings we still have? Very historical.
Reviewer: kelting - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - September 8, 2011
Subject: Happy Birthday Pig!
This is a gem! It's so rare to get such a long piece of rehearsal time. Great for folks who play and for getting a sense of how the boys worked together. Plus it's just a pleasure to listen to this. The sound is surprisingly good for the context. I listened to the whole thing smiling like crazy.
Reviewer: sd.berg - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - July 18, 2011
Subject: Too drunk to drive
Implying that there's a drunken status suitable for driving, Bob?
5 stars for historic reasons.
Reviewer: - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - July 5, 2011
Subject: Thread should mention OWSLEY as original soundman/taper for the session
Although I have seen no concrete evidence - handwritten papers from the session, a signature, etc indicating the lineage of this tape, WEIR saying OWSLEY's name/speaking to OWSLEY, and the time/date of the recording indicates OWSLEY is the original sound engineer and recording engineer (taper) for this session.
Reviewer: luvvdubz73 - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - November 1, 2010
Subject: Ken Burns: Deadumentary
captivating....moving pictures, recorded....
Reviewer: csstacy - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - May 10, 2010
Subject: Feb 66
I think this is from the big pink house in LA right before the Pico Acid Test 3/12 where they played Viola.

Very fun to listen to; especially if you are an aspiring bassist.
Reviewer: timhorpo - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - September 14, 2009
Subject: Love this site
One word, especially if you are an obsessed deadhead like myself. FASCINATING!!
Reviewer: kctomato - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - January 3, 2009
Subject: track 20
in this track at about 8:20 there is a foreshadowing of what would become the Truckin groove

interesting listen especially for context of where they came from

otherwise there is a reason they call these outtakes
Reviewer: high flow - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - July 12, 2008
Subject: Well worth the time....
I listened to this session top to is, at this point, a documentary piece.

I found it to be enthralling.

Pig may have been the front man on stage, but Jerry was clearly directing the band in this rehearsal. His determination and ability to lead are evident on this tape.

A real joy. A chance to stop imagining what an early GD rehearsal was like. Land on the wall and dig the scene baby. It's Tasty, it's tasty.:)
Reviewer: Perfect Mystery - - May 7, 2008
Subject: Place of recording
Could this have been recorded in the FM campus radio station they rehearsed in at night in those days? The sound quality is excellent for the time.
Fun hearing this, but the album version is such an exalted trip!
Reviewer: Igotaheadfulla - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - September 26, 2007
Subject: Smokin' hot
This is fantastic! If you love these guys, its a must. 5 stars for sheer rarity. And Bob's a goof.
Reviewer: grateful kel - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - August 3, 2006
Subject: awsome
this is awsome but i cant figure out how to download it...i guess i dnt know how to download anything..hah u can tell pig pens drunk off his ass
Reviewer: tvskies13 - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - September 27, 2005
Subject: Viola Lee Blues Rehearsal
If you listen closely, you can hear Phil saying to Jerry that the band has to learn it before they go to L.A. the upcoming Saturday to play the "thing". Perhaps he's talking about the Watts Acid Test which took place on Feb 12, 1966. This would probably place this practice session in early February in San Francisco at their rehearsal space.
Reviewer: cardgamermanguy - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - September 8, 2005
Subject: Practice
This sounds as though this is one of the early worked out versions of Viola Lee Blues they did. They were probably in thier own home just beginning to rehearse. Good quality. Historically amazing. Great jam at end.

However, this cannot possibly be from 67. By mid 67, pigpen had moved from the Vox Continential to a hammond and jerry's guitar sound had moved from a clear direct sound to a more ditorted low end jazzy sound. Also, it is Pig doing the harmony, not Weir and there are sections where he is playing harmonica. Its got to be from early 66, maybe late 65. Still great though.

Reviewer: outkast - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - July 21, 2005
Subject: bom chicaboom
TO SCANLE, THAT IS PHIL NOT JERRY SAYNG Ill,break that bottle over your head if you come in here with that again.THAT WAS 9 YEARS before Phil became a DRUNK himself.BUT JUST TO HAVE THIS SHIT TO LISTEN TO IS FUN!!
Reviewer: sdm8deyz - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - June 27, 2005
Subject: Why not date this from the L.A. period, Feb. '66?
Pig wanders in and out, maybe on consec. days. Bear is there trying to master the system. Seems like they are all residing together in this stable space. Why not speculate that they have set up in the big pink house in L.A. learning new tunes early in Feb. '66? No live Viola Lee dates eariler than March. Is there a good reason to consider this Jan. '66 instead of Feb.?

It's extremely interesting that Pig was originally slated to sing harmony on this tune. Hear him struggle through the rehearsal. Soon is not in the picture at all, plus Phil seems to be complaining about his choosing drinking over rehearsal. "Bust it [that bottle you're drinking from] over his head," etc.

This can't be from mid '67 as speculated elsewhere because they obviously do not know the song at all. This rehearsal must have taken place before the song was ever performed in public. The earliest known performances all display the fruit of the work heard here.
Reviewer: cream-puff-war - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - June 22, 2005
Subject: People bugged by people will do extraordinary things.
Which by coincidence was the tagline for the movie 'Petulia', highly regarded by most crtics such as Roger Ebert at the time of it's release, June 1968 though for our purposes what makes it at all memorable now is the footage it features of the Grateful Dead performing sections of "Viola Lee Blues"...
plus, Janis belts out "Roadblock" with Big Brother & the Holding Company at a posh party in the lobby of the SF Fairmount Hotel.

I'm tempted to speculate, given the intense pressure and concentration on phrasing heard in these rehearsals of their all-out show stopper of the time ('67 esp.), that
Phil and Jerry truncate the number here much like the snippets that serve as psychedelic scenery for straight man George C. Scott.
It seems that the band is preparing or even auditioning for their upcoming flashback to an earlier time frame...
Which may have been filmed well before Dick ('A Hard Day's Night') Lester began nailing down the main direction of what would become a prestige Hollywood production.

The pressure to get it together is so strong that this can't be just another rehearsal... the question is,
could this tape be from as late as mid-'67?

In any case, it is, I believe, worth comparing to their brief but beautifully photographed (Nicholas Roeg) bit in an oddball 4 star throwaway.
Reviewer: scanle - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - April 6, 2005
Subject: foreshadowing
I really like the inbetween bantering. You can hear Jerry getting ticked off at Pigpen who eventually leaves. Then you hear Weir say something about Pigpen being too drunk to drive. Jerry then says something about smashing the bottle next time he sees him. Some serious foreshadowing here.
Reviewer: BkMitch69 - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - January 10, 2005
Subject: xx?
It means the exact date is unknown
Reviewer: tomo - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - November 21, 2004
Subject: 66-1-xx
Why does the file say "66-01-xx" when you download it?
Reviewer: Gr8ful4theband - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - September 2, 2004
Subject: This is oldschool
This must of been deep in the vault.Listening to them b/s is gr8.That is 1 viscious Viola Lee
Reviewer: beege - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - June 11, 2004
Subject: Viola Lee Rehearse
Certainly on a historical perspective, this is fascinating stuff as we listen to Jerry become the teacher with the rest of the boys as students. The sound quality is surprisingly good. The final jam wails but is abruptly cut off.
Reviewer: Madriver - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - June 8, 2004
Subject: Prehistoric Dead!!!!!
This is a fantastic slice of vintage Dead of work in progress.From the dialogue it sounds like probably dates from a few days before they went to LA.This will do nicely till some live Warlocks tapes appear....ENJOY!
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Uploaded by
Jonathan Aizen
on 6/6/2004
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